Paint Techniques for Faux Texturing Walls
Whether your walls are colored or neutral, adding a subsequent finish layer can add visual interest. These techniques, for creating texture and pattern, are relatively easy to achieve with only the most basic of tools. Remember to allow your base layer to thoroughly dry for at least 24 to 48 hours, and preferably for up to a week for full color set, to help achieve the most desirable results. If you are thinking of adding a finish layer, leave the painter's tape up so that you can add texture on the entire surface. Use the large chipboard paint sample that you made when selecting your original wall color to help choose a finish color and practice your technique. A little research might also go a long way here, if you are hoping to replicate natural materials and patinas. Color selection will be as important or more than the application technique for achieving believable results.
Sponging usually uses natural sponges as a tool, as they'll give the most randomized, organic look. The sponge is used to apply paint with a blotting motion, resulting in a soft stippled effect. You can substitute conventional sponges in a pinch, if you switch between two or three sponges. Which color you will use will really depend on your personal taste: you can use very similar colors, or colors that create lots of contrast with your base. To achieve a lower contrast result with sponging if you have a color that is very different from your base, just use the technique more densely.
With dragging, paint is applied fully over the base color, and a brush is dragged down the wet surface. The bristles take away paint, revealing the base color beneath. The final look is similar to fabric wall papers, as the dragging results in color contrast and a ribbed effect. You may find that a drag layer that is very different in brightness or color to the base is more effective here, as the first step of fully painting over the base color will mean that there is always some drag layer color visible.
Use colors that are closely analogous to your base, and precisely taped borders, to create a damask effect. This is a nice way to create interest with a strong geometric structure. Depending on the colors you choose, this effect can have a more masculine, traditional look.
Stamping is a nice way to create pattern. You can use lots of stamps in closely packed columns of a vertical pattern to create the feel of wall paper, or to replace wall paper borders around the perimeter of the room. Stamps are available in a variety of shapes, or you can make your own. It's particularly useful with stamping to saturate the stamp with the finish color and test on newspaper, to ensure consistent results on the wall. Use painter's tape applied with a light touch on a thoroughly dry base color to provide guidelines for placement. Some stamps are placed on rollers to save you from having to apply them repeatedly, and are available for achieving various unusual effects like faux wood-grain.
Stenciling is somewhat similar to stamping in that it can be used repeatedly to create an overall pattern, or more sparingly to create a border. Use prefabricated or home made cutouts to outline shapes on your wall that will then be filled in with the chosen finish color. Use painter's tape applied with a light touch on a thoroughly dry base color to provide guidelines for placement.
Ragging uses cheesecloth or other soft cloth to alter finish paint in a blotting, randomized pattern. Finish color can either be ragged on, or ragged off(where, like in dragging, an overall finish layer is removed by the finish tool). Different kinds of fabrics, and how they are wound, will have different results, so experiment on newspaper or scrap. You can also use multiple colors, but may find that the most desirable results come from finish paint colors that have similar values to the base.
Color Washing or Color Rubbing
You can use brushes, cloths and other tools to apply finish paint over the entire surface for a very subtle effect. Use light pressure, and work in sections, using a washing motion and periodically removing excess paint from your tool with a rag or newspaper.
Frottage, like dragging and ragging off is more of a subtractive technique. Color is applied overall, either as single colors, or multiple colors blended together by rubbing with cheesecloth. While this finish layer is still wet, large sheets of plastic or paper are applied to the wall and then removed. The texture left behind is similar to plaster and natural stone. This is an excellent choice if you are looking for a traditional feel, but the size of the wall makes some of the other techniques seem physically daunting.
Clear glazes can result in a light sheen. There are also powdered pigments available which can be mixed into these glazes. Many of these pigments will have pearlescent results, but with more subtlety than a fully mixed metallic or pearlescent paint would have. A particular favorite is a special effects pigment that changes color according to the angle that light is hitting it, and the viewing angle. Mix a restrained amount of this pigment into a clear glaze to create a very pretty result. This is a nice choice for a small room, where high contrast patterns might be overwhelming and difficult to see from the forcibly short viewing distances.